Today was the tour of the Sacred Valley. Sarah, Drew, Andrea, Shawn, David and I met at Maximo Nivel at 7:30 to get onto the tour bus. After picking up some others in various hotels around the city, we headed east to Pisaq. The views along the way were breath-taking. The mountains rise on each side of the narrow valley and in many spots, a river runs along the valley floor.
In Pisaq, we climbed the hill to the Incan ruins, which house a temple of the Sun, other ceremonial "rooms", many agricultural terraces and on a nearby hill are the ancient burial grounds carved into the hillside. There was a lovely waterfall and small river running between the hills. We were in awe of the feeling of the sacred space atop the hill. This was just the first of 3 that we visited. Afterwards, we went down to colonial Pisaq, where we stopped at the market. The tour guide led us to a jewelry factory where they handmade silver jewelry. Of course, I was in 7th heaven watching them form the settings and cut the stones to fit. We then went into the factory store and I was loving everything I saw.
After Pisaq we ventured further into the valley. On the road between Pisaq and Urubamba, there was a roadside stand selling roasted Cuy (Guinea Pig). The driver stopped so we could get a good look, but we were not buying that!
In Urubamba, we stopped at a nice restaurant which had a lovely buffet. The food was fabulous, but I think it was here that I caught an intestinal bug. They had a full salad bar, main courses and desserts. The guys raved about it over and over again. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and overindulge at least a little.
From Urubamba, we went to Ollantaytambo. Here there was another impressive Incan ruins which we climbed up. On another nearby mountain, they had carved the head of Tunupa. Tunupa was the messenger of Viracocha the creater god of pre-Incan and Incan mythology. The image remains there today and made me think of the "Old Man of the Mountain" that we lost a few years ago in NH.
Ollantaytambo is the start of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. In town, we left some of our fellow tourists who were heading up there the following day. If I get to make the trip to Machu Picchu, this is where I will take the train to Aguas Calientes.
The rest of us went onward to Chinchero and another set of ruins. This one was up on a plateau so we did not have to climb as much, but the view of the patchwork of farmland was wonderful. We did a bit more shopping along the route back to the bus, but I didn't buy much.
A little bit about the vendors who are EVERYWHERE! I'm getting a little tired of them always coming up to me to try to get me to buy something. After a while the constant pleas kind of fall on deaf ears. At first I would politely say "no gracias", but now, I'm more likely to ignore them or if they are insistent to tell them to leave me alone.
After our trip, we got off the bus at Plaza San Francisco and decided to stop into a small bar for Pisco Sours. This is very similar to whiskey sours but made from Pisco, which is a type of brandy. It also has lime juice, bitters, syrup and egg whites. It is very good, but for me they go down too quickly!
It was a fun day spent with some of my classmates. I'll try to put up the pictures as soon as I can. The internet here is touchy!